This Valentine’s Day, with the United States Capitol as a backdrop, a larger-than-life puppet of Trump and a carnivalesque Wall Street swamp monster exchanged vows to join together in cherishing Wall Street and extracting every penny of wealth from American families for those at the top.
The Take on Wall Street campaign, including the Communications Workers of America, Hedge Clippers, Center for Popular Democracy, New York Communities for Change, the Working Families Party and others, staged the mock wedding in Washington to call attention to President Trump’s recent love affair with Wall Street.
The raucous wedding ceremony was punctuated with remarks delivered by Senators Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, and Jeff Merkley, as well as Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The rally was organized as a response to Wall Street’s growing influence in government, reflected in recent actions such as the appointments of Goldman Sachs executives like Steve Mnuchin and other financial industry insiders to prominent roles in the administration; Trump’s recent Executive Orders to gut financial protections and preventions against brokerage firms giving bogus advice to their clients, and the pending introduction of legislation in the House of Representatives to roll back consumer protections and guard against banks making risky bets.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, highlighted conflicts of interest in the Trump Administration “He said he was going to drain the swamp, but he brought the swamp right into the White House. When we look at Bannon, and Mnuchin, and Cohn, we know what this clique is all about — the billionaire class organizing in ways to leverage their government positions so they can get richer and richer, and we can’t have that.”
Senator Brown drew attention to the foreclosure scandal that Steven Mnuchin – the recently confirmed Secretary of the Treasury – was responsible for, saying: “My wife and I live in Cleveland, and our zip code had more foreclosures than any other in the United States of America” in the first half of 2007. He went on: “That doesn’t mean much to Steven Mnuchin or [Trump], but what we need to do is show what this means personally to people, what this means to human beings: what a foreclosure means, what a lost job means.”
Senator Sanders reminded us of the dangers that a Wild-West Wall Street creates for our economy: “[Wall Street’s] greed, their recklessness, their illegal behavior drove this country into the worst economic downturn in the modern history of the United States of America.” He added: “The American people do not want a government that represents the billionaire class, but a government that represents all of us.”
Senator Merkley brought up recent threats against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, saying “It has worked far better than anyone could have imagined. It has returned $11.8 billion to the victims in America of predatory financial institutions.” He then asked: “You know during a wedding ceremony when they say ‘speak up now or forever hold your peace’? — Let’s not hold our peace! Let’s speak up now, let’s speak up tomorrow, let’s keep pushing. Let’s make sure we keep the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau!”
Following the speeches, the “wedding ceremony” began in earnest. With Pachelbel’s Cannon playing over a loudspeaker the giant Trump puppet and a swamp creature in a suit, representing Wall Street, exchanged their vows. Nothing in Trump’s white house is typical and the wedding vows were no exception, as the couple pledged, for example, “to cheat, rob, deceive, defraud, pillage, plunder, and swindle American families all wealth so that the top 1% can lead lives of extreme luxury the likes of which ‘the little people’ can scarcely imagine.”
But the spectators had come to crash the wedding more than to celebrate it. When the wedding officiant asked the audience “If anyone here has cause why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace,” the crowd recognized its cue, loudly chanting “no!” and “shame!”
The wedding was a match made in heaven for Goldman Sachs, which saw its share price climb to record levels.
“The long-denied romantic relationship between Trump and Wall Street has blossomed since he assumed the presidency. Trump’s appointment of several Goldman Sachs executives to his administration and his recent actions to gut protections against greedy banks have brought Wall Street and government closer than ever, and this stirred desires for formal vows,” said Luísa Galvão, a spokesperson with the Take on Wall Street campaign.“People reject this unholy union, and we will not hold our peace.”
“In finalizing his economic team, Trump has cemented a government by Goldman Sachs, for Goldman Sachs and to the benefit of Goldman Sachs,” said Jonathan Westin, Executive Director, New York Communities for Change. “The bankers are back in the driver seat and back for round two of robbing the American people. With Mnuchin as Treasury secretary we can fully anticipate another housing crisis. Foreclosed families across the country deserve much better. Trump’s marriage to Wall Street is now official.”